Rearranging the deck chairs

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Today could turn out to be the hottest day ever recorded for Great Britain. Somewhere on this island it will get hotter than it ever has in human memory. If so then it will replace the second hottest day, which happened in 2019. The third hottest day will have happened yesterday.

The temperature we are in competition with, the all-time highest, was set in Cambridge in 2019. It was a whopping 38.7 degrees Celsius, or 101.66 degrees Fahrenheit. This is what our future looks like, this is what happens when we neglect the damage we are inflicting daily on our one and only home. Record temperatures are now becoming commonplace.

Climate change denialism is also rampant here. Many people old enough to remember are recalling the summer of 1976, when Britain suffered a particularly severe drought. But they are conflating lack of rain and moderately high temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s with temperatures over 100 due to global warming. It’s not the same thing. Even so, I understand why they do it. They’re trying to normalise these hot days. They’re doing it because they’re scared.

But denial won’t make the problem go away. Record temperatures are being recorded all over the world. Some places are so hot I can’t even imagine what it is like. How do you not go crazy when it’s 127 degrees outside? How do you even go outside? You don’t.

Survival may one day come down to technology. Those with air conditioning might make it to see another day. Those without air conditioning won’t. Once again it will be the economically disadvantaged who will suffer the most. But that differential will only be temporary. One day no one will be safe. You can run, as they say, but you cannot hide.

The problem we keep so studiously ignoring is not going to go away. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, for example, single handedly killed a bill that might have saved the United States from missing its Paris climate agreement goals. That literally could have been America’s last chance to save itself. Because the United States is still regarded as an example for the rest of us, other countries may follow suit. Imagine if Joe Manchin has as his legacy “the man who killed our planet.” It literally could come to that.

In the meantime it’s going to get worse — much worse. There’s nothing in the models that will guarantee the earth cannot get hotter than humans can endure. We will see days in most of our lifetimes where humans can’t survive outdoors on certain days.

Though there are locked-in effects of global warming we cannot prevent, there’s still time to avoid the worst. While there are many other worthy causes that are of high importance, the number one problem facing the world today is global climate change. Nothing else comes close. We can end racism, restore Roe, achieve economic equality and ensure equal justice for all, but it won’t matter in the least if we have no planet. If we don’t solve global warming we are just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, so to speak.

What can we do? Individually, very little. Collectively, we can do everything. As a single people we must recycle, keep our carbon footprints as low as we can, make climate change our main talking point everywhere we go and vote. Ensure that global climate change is high — preferably number one — on the agenda of every candidate we vote for. We must write editorials, do volunteer work or donate to climate preservation organisations.

   

We won’t be alone. As things get worse, more and more people will join us. And things will get worse before they get better. But the only way they can get better is if we act and if we start today. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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